Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Another presentation of a brighter BayWalk future sheds light on few details

ST. PETERSBURG — A collective sigh of relief greeted the news last year that Bill Edwards, a local self-made millionaire, had bought the near empty BayWalk shopping and entertainment complex.

"I think (BayWalk's) prospects are wonderful," Mayor Bill Foster said shortly before Edwards' purchase was made official in September. "I've talked with Edwards. We did some brainstorming about the property, nothing concrete. But he's got a really good vision."

Six months after Edwards bought the property for $5.2 million — about $3 million less than its initial sale price — the vision of the complex remains as vague as it was under the previous owners, which included a group of out-of-town investors, CW Capital Asset Management.

Aside from a fresh coat of paint and a new architectural rendering that was unveiled Thursday at City Hall, little has changed — at least publicly — with Edwards at the helm. BayWalk is even more empty since Edwards bought it. Two weeks ago, Tokyo Sushi Cafe closed after more than a decade at the complex.

In a 20-minute presentation to the City Council, Edwards repeated his desire to turn the 74,500 square-foot complex into a destination shopping and dining hot spot.

He and Joe Jimenez, managing director of the Edwards Group, told council members and Foster that they spent "four to five days" last week in New York City meeting with retailers and restaurateurs who are interested in leasing space at BayWalk. Before that trip, many of the same prospects were flown by Edwards and put up in the Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club to scout out the area and property, Jimenez said.

Edwards said they were able to persuade "three iconic chefs" to put three different types of food in the complex, with one of the types being an "iconic" steak house.

"You'll recognize the names when we announce them," Edwards said.

But neither Edwards nor Jimenez, when pressed after the presentation, would say which retailers or chefs they spoke with in New York.

"We're going to hold off on announcing anything," Edwards said. "There will be a press conference when we're ready."

It's not clear what commitment the three chefs have made to Edwards. Asked if anyone has signed a contract, Edwards said that contracts are being prepared.

Edwards did say he wanted to limit the number of bars and restaurants at BayWalk to three.

"We don't want to compete with Beach Drive," Edwards said, referring to the popular stretch down the street. "We're going to put in ladies' clothing, men's clothing, shoes. Stuff you can't buy downtown, that you have to go to the mall to buy."

The current location for the retailer White House Black Market is a 689-square-foot building that Edwards said will be demolished in the next month. The conceptual drawing, which Edwards said wasn't final, showed the complex as an open-air courtyard with the building gone.

White House Black Market and Chicos will stay at BayWalk and move to new locations, Edwards said.

The build-out and grand opening for the new BayWalk, which will have a new name that has yet to be announced, will be in 12 to 13 months, Edwards said.

When CW Capital owned the complex, announcements of delayed "grand openings" drew complaints from council members and Foster, who said they were growing impatient that one of downtown's key properties remained empty. But on Thursday, council members gushed when told of the 2013 grand opening. Edwards, who won a contract last year to operate the city's Mahaffey Theater, was doing just fine, they said.

"We've gotten these reports over the last few years, and this is different than the last few we've had," said Jeff Danner. "Great vision, and wow. Look forward to seeing it happen."

"What a blessing it is to have you here," Bill Dudley said.

Jimenez said afterward that it has been "difficult" getting tenants. It has been an education and learning process, he said, getting familiar with marketing the property and getting prospects interested.

Edwards said he already has had two offers to flip the property to another buyer, but refused them. He said it just takes time to find the right mix of tenants that will work long term.

"I could have already filled that place with stores," Edwards said.

That's the same explanation representatives of the previous owner gave when explaining why BayWalk was empty. What makes Edwards different?

"We know how to find them," he said. "We know what we're doing."

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at mvansickler@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8037

Another presentation of a brighter BayWalk future sheds light on few details 03/15/12 [Last modified: Friday, March 16, 2012 6:34am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Salvador Dali's body to be exhumed for paternity test, Spanish judge orders

    Human Interest

    A judge in Madrid has ordered Spanish artist Salvador Dalí to be exhumed following a paternity suit.

    Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali, presents his first Chrono-Hologram in Paris, France, in 1973. A Spanish judge on Monday June 26, 2017, has ordered the remains of artist Salvador Dali to be exhumed following a paternity suit by a woman named by Europa Press agency as Pilar Abel, 61 from the nearby city of Girona. Dali, considered one of the fathers of surrealism in art, died in 1989 and is buried in his museum in the northeastern town of Figueres. [Associated Press]
  2. How good is Florida Gators' Jim McElwain? We're about to find out

    College



    With Florida finally, formally announcing the addition of quarterback Malik Zaire on Monday, the attention turns from the Notre Dame grad transfer to the man who will be coaching him.

    The Gators' offense comes down to how head coach Jim McElwain handles the quarterback battle between Zaire and redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks. [ANDRES LEIVA | Times]
  3. Supreme Court allows limited version of Trump's travel ban to take effect, will consider case in fall

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to allow a limited version of President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries to take effect, and will consider in the fall the president's broad powers in immigration matters in a case that raised fundamental issues of national security …

    Prrotesters wave signs and chant during a demonstration against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, outside a federal courthouse in Seattle in May. The Supreme Court is letting the Trump administration enforce its 90-day ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries, overturning lower court orders that blocked it. The action Monday, June 26, 2017, is a victory for President Donald Trump in the biggest legal controversy of his young presidency. [Associated Press]
  4. Local gas prices plummet as Fourth of July holiday travel approaches

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Local gas prices are enjoying an unseasonal dip around the $2 mark just in time for the hectic Fourth of July holiday travel weekend.

    The price of regular unleaded gasoline has dropped to $1.99 at a Rally station on Pasadena Ave. South and Gulfport Boulevard South, South Pasadena.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  5. Restaurant review: Deccan Spice in Feather Sound is a gateway to the allures of Indian cuisine

    Food & Dining

    CLEARWATER

    Feather Sound's Tru Lounge, which was Flo Lounge before that, morphed into Grand Siam in 2012, a giant Thai restaurant owned by the folks who had Ban Thai restaurants in Tampa, Clearwater, Brandon and Lakeland. It was lavish with dramatic fluted chandeliers and a long, polished wood sushi bar, but it …

    Some of the selections at a recent lunch buffet at Deccan Spice included chicken biryani, gobi masala and murgh masala.